Please welcome guest blogger Ms. Ortiz. This is the first of what I hope to be many contributions from her.
Ten years ago, I would have never imagined that I would be in college studying the liberal arts, much less history. I was good at math and believed history was the most boring subject a kid could be forced to take. My years of learning history in middle school felt like review of what I had already learned in elementary school, which was American history and the structure of our government. The only difference was that, in middle school, I had to memorize dates that meant very little to me. It’s tough to get motivated to have dates, people and what seemed to be random events drilled into your brain.
When I started high school I expected my history class to be the same boring, rote rundown of disconnected events and dates. I didn’t anticipate putting more effort than necessary into the class, just enough for a decent grade. My first week in high school completely changed my attitude towards history. The class wasn’t the same drill I had gotten used to. Instead, history was presented in a story-like fashion where seemingly unimportant events had the ability to change the course of humanity. I wondered about what if something else had happened instead, which sparked my interest in the past. I’m sure that I annoyed my teachers with these questions. My interest in these what-if questions motivated me to learn as much as I could.
Apparently, history wasn’t the study of disjointed facts and dates like I learned in grammar through middle school. Instead, I began to see the interconnectedness of historical events. This new way of looking at history enabled me to actually remember the facts that had been previously drilled into me to no avail. Before I knew it, I actually even appreciated the subject. We are all a product of history. Without historical understanding, we would not able to make sense of the world today and how we got to where we are now
Because of this, I decided to major in history in college. As I take more history classes I have been able to make sense of how the past relates to the present and how it fits together like a giant puzzle. Take a look at the early years of Christianity. A seemingly obscure movement in the Middle East grew into a church that ended up dominating society socially, politically, and economically. If the church hadn’t risen to power the way it did, we would be living in a totally different world today.
So now here I am, just a few months away from having the opportunity to teach history myself as a student teacher. I will have the chance to teach children who are the same age I was when I first caught the history bug. It is exciting to think that a student could possibly leave my class loving history. Hopefully, as I grow into a career, I can help students learn to use the past as a way to unlock the rhythm of the present. Hopefully, I can help students see how the past has helped configure the world in which we live today. Hopefully, and most importantly, I can arm students with the tools they need to decode the past so they can imagine a better future.
The road ahead of me is long. There are many things I have yet to learn. But one thing I know is the value of bringing history alive for my future students. This is the possibility that excites me the most.